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EU work-life balance directive comes into force

EU work-life balance directive comes into force

Photo © European Union 2011 - EP

(BRUSSELS) - An EU Directive on work-life balance, which came into force Thursday, aims to increase the participation of women in the labour market and the take-up of parental leave and flexible working arrangements.

The new act also provides opportunities for workers to be granted leave to care for relatives who need support.

The legislation means that parents and carers will be better able to reconcile their professional and private lives, while one of the aims is also that companies will benefit from more motivated workers.

The Directive is Europe's response to the fact that women in the European Union remain considerably underrepresented in the labour market and in management. It is estimated that Europe's economic loss due to the gender employment gap amounts to around EUR 370 billion per year.

The new Directive is expected to help working parents and carers by not obliging them to make a choice between their family lives and their professional careers. It sets new or higher minimum standards to create more convergence between EU Member States, by preserving and extending existing rights.

Main elements of the directive

  • paternity leave - fathers or second parents will be able to take at least 10 working days of leave around the time of birth of a child paid at a level equal to that currently set at EU level for maternity leave (in line with article 11 of Council Directive 92/85/EEC). The right to paternity leave will not be subject to a prior service requirement. However, the payment of paternity leave can be subject to a six-month prior service requirement. Member states with more generous parental leave systems will be able to keep their current national arrangements
  • parental leave - an individual right to 4 months of parental leave, from which 2 months are non-transferable between the parents and are paid. The level of payment and the age limit of the child will be set by member states
  • carers' leave - a new concept at EU level for workers caring for relatives in need of care or support due to serious medical reasons. Carers will be able to take 5 working days per year. Member states may use a different reference period, allocate leave on a case-by-case basis, and may introduce additional conditions for the exercise of this right
  • flexible working arrangements - the right for parents to request these arrangements has been extended to include working carers.

Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers

Further information on the Directive

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